Forestland on Whidbey is one of our prized natural resources. Our 52 mile island highway is lined with trees almost the entire way. Nestled in the woods are many houses, shops, and businesses, all cozy and hidden in evergreen privacy. At the Conservation District, we are here to support Whidbey landowners in sustainably managing and conserving private forestland for future generations to enjoy.
Forest stewardship means recognizing that a healthy forest is about more than trees – our forests are an interactive community of plants, animals, soil, and water. If you’re a forest landowner, you may enjoy your forest property daily as a permanent residence, or you may own it as a family investment. Either way, when you walk your forest, questions can understandably come up. Is your forest healthy? How can it be managed to ensure it’s health into the future?
To get started, check out our top three resource guides linked below, which have been tailored specifically to what's relevant and helpful to you as a small forest landowner on Whidbey Island based on our work with landowners in recent years.
Request assistance in the form below - and note that since we are a free and voluntary agency, many utilize our services and we often have a waitlist for these services.
Forest Stewardship Starter Series
Are you fresh to the field of forest stewardship and don't know where to start? Move no further than the Woods of Wisdom series - these three will get you started on connecting with the greater Pacific Northwest forest professional community and empower you to manage your land with support.
Learn About Forest Stewardship from Kelsi
Learn a bit about our Forest Stewardship services from Natural Resource Planner Kelsi Mottet.
Click a Tab Below for More Resources:
WSU Ext. FoRestry & WA Dept. of Natural Resources
WSU Extension Forestry
Washington State University Extension's Puget Sound Forest Stewardship Program has a host of fantastic forestry education and landowner resources. To read an overview of the programs and services of the WSU Extension Forestry Program, click here.
Program Contact for Additional Questions:
Click here for direct access to a list of the WSU Extension Forestry Program contacts.
WICD is often asked: Who can I get to assist me in developing a forest management plan if Whidbey Island Conservation District staff are unavailable? WSU Extension Forestry has developed and maintains a "Forester & Silvicultural Contractor Directory" for landowners in the Puget Sound region. A consulting forester provides professional forest management services to landowners, while a silvicultural contractor provides the labor and equipment to perform forest management tasks, including site preparation, tree planting, vegetation control, pre-commercial thinning, slash disposal, etc. This searchable online directory is state-wide in scope and up-to-date. You can hire a consulting forester to help you develop your forest management plan.
Here are some additional resources worth exploring:
WA Dept. of Natural Resources
Washington State Department of Natural Resources maintains a Small Forest Landowner Office where they seek to provide you and other family forest owners with technical and financial assistance that helps you meet your objectives for your forest lands. Contact a Stewardship Forester for added guidance and professional expertise that compliment partners like the WSU Extension Forestry and local conservation district planning staff.
Program Contact for Additional Stewardship Related Questions:
Here are some additional resources worth exploring:
WA Dept. of Natural Resources
Washington State Department of Natural Resources offers phone consultation from their Small Forest Landowner Regulation Assistance Foresters on questions you may have related to the details of forest practices permitting. If you're a forest land owner and are contemplating or preparing for any type of forest practice, such as thinning your trees to gain income, or a final harvest of a stand of trees, you'll want to contact a forest practices permitting forester to provide you with guidance on executing your forest practice successfully. Two contacts, one regionally based and one state-wide based, are helpful DNR Forest Practices Forester contacts below you can reach out to. Be sure, too, to check out the Forest Practices Illustrated Guide for a good orientation to your responsibilities are a forest landowner in accomplishing forest practices on your land.
Program Contact for Forest Practices Permitting Questions:
Forest Practices Forester
Based out of the DNR Sedro-Wooley office
Here is a publication with guidance on forest practices in Island County.
forest stewardship resources
Forest Stewardship Resources
If you are looking for a consulting forester, logger, reforestation expert, or another forestry professional to assist you with the management of your forest, consider searching the WSU Extension Forestry Consulting Directory. Click here to learn more.
If you are looking for small scale professional sawyers at local mills, consider searching the WSU Extension Forestry Small Scale Sawmill Directory. Click here to learn more.
Forest Management for INTRODUCTORY RESOURCES
Forest Management for HEALTH
Forest Management for WILDLIFE
Forest Management for CLIMATE ADAPTATIONS
Forest Management for BIOCHAR
Forest Management for REFORESTATION
Forest Management for SILVICULTURE - CONIFERS
Forest Management for SILVICULTURE - HARDWOODS
FEDERAL FUNDING ASSISTANCE for Forest Landowners
USDA Natural Resources
United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service is a federal agency with field offices located throughout Washington state to assist in voluntary conservation on rural lands. NRCS offers many voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial and technical assistance to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner. Through these programs, the agency approves contracts to provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns or opportunities to help save energy, improve soil, water, plant, air, animal and related resources on agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides eligible forest landowners who have an approved forest plan an opportunity to access funding assistance to help implement certain approved forest management practices on their property. If you are interested in this opportunity and wish to learn more if your property and management practices may be eligible for EQIP, contact the NRCS Forester who serves Island County residents.
Office Location can be found by visiting here.
ISLAND COUNTY tax incentive Programs for Forest Landowners
Washington Dept. of
Washington State encourages sound forestry practices so that present and future generations can enjoy the many benefits they provide. In addition to scenic and recreational spaces, healthy forests provide: an enhanced water supply; reduced soil erosion, storm and flood control damage; habitat for wild game; employment opportunities; raw materials for products.
As a way to encourage commercial forestry in Washington State, landowners may choose to have their land designated as forest land. This designated often results in a lower assessed value and lower taxes. Specific requirements must be met to qualify for this designation. The Designated Forest Land Program is managed by the Island County Assessor's Department and is a program overseen by the Washington State Department of Revenue.
To be eligible to apply, a property must be five (5) or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total five or more acres that is or are devoted primarily to the growing and harvesting of timber. Designated forest land means the land only and does not include a residential home site. The term includes land used for incidental uses that are compatible with the growing and harvesting of timber, but no more than ten percent (10%) of the land may be used for such incidental uses. It also includes the land on which appurtenances necessary for the production, preparation, or sale of the timber products exist in conjunction with land producing these products. To learn more about whether your forest property can qualify, click here. To view requirements for timber management plans, a component of entering into the Designated Forest Land Program, click here.
To be directed to the Island County Assessor Current Use Exemptions page, where you can access the Designated Forest Land Program application forms, continuance forms, and other resources, click here.
Designated Forest Land Contact at Island County:
Current Use Appraiser Interim
Island County Planning
The Public Benefit Open Space Rating System is part of the Open Space Taxation Act, too, and is administered by the Island County Planning Department. As shared above, the Open Space Taxation Act, enacted in 1970, allows property owners to have their open space valued at their current use rather than at their highest and best use. The Act states that it is in the best interest of the state to maintain, preserve, conserve, and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space lands for the production of food, fiber, and forest crops and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens.
Island County Code Chapter 3.40, in addition to state law, governs the Public Benefits Rating System (PBRS) program in Island County.
To be eligible to apply to PBRS, a property must be at least five (5) acres in size and contain at least one (1) open space resource. If a property includes a residence, a minimum of one (1) acre of the property, inclusive of the home-site, will not be eligible for PBRS enrollment. Read the reference guide below to learn more about open space resources. Unlike the Farm and Agriculture classification administered by the Island County Assessor, there are no income requirements for this program, rather, what open space elements are present on the property contribute to a point value that ultimately leads to a specific reduced valuation if your application is accepted.
Public Benefit Rating System Contact at Island County:
Island County Planning Department Manager
Teaming Together on Forestry
The Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda identifies forests as a primary habitat under threat within the region. This Pilot Program hopes to achieve landscape-level goals of restoration of forest-related ecosystem functions, improve fish and wildlife habitat, protect water quality, and reduce stormwater runoff by first reaching an important audience - YOU, the non-industrial private forest landowners (NIPF) that make up one of the largest landholders in our nation. We wish to raise awareness that forest stewardship services are available to support you.
In partnership with King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, San Juan Islands, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whidbey Island Conservation Districts, this Pilot Program will employ a regionally-focused, multiple conservation district approach to addressing current and future challenges to Puget Sound forests and barriers for NIPF landowners to understanding and actively manage their forestland, with the goal to increase the expertise of NIPF landowners and empower land stewardship through education and technical assistance from CD foresters.
Ready to get started?
What to Expect When Requesting Assistance from the Whidbey Island Conservation District
- Our services are free and voluntary, so lots of folks love to work with us, and we look forward to working with you!
- We have 2 staff who assist with satisfying client requests
- We assist requests in the order that they are received
- Please allow for 2 weeks for an initial reply
- General info requests take approximately 1 month to respond to
- New site visit requests to properties are on a 6-month waitlist currently
- Farm, animal, and waste management plans are on a 1-year waitlist currently
- Here is a list of directories and/or organizations which may be able to respond to your request sooner. We can not recommend private sector professionals as a government entity, so have included directories housed by other entities that are populated by the professionals themselves:
- Agriculture & Forestry Professionals Directory via USDA - https://nrcs-sites.secure.force.com/FindaTSP
- Forester & Silvicultural Contractors Directory via WSU Extension - https://bit.ly/3xT2eVJ
- Arborists Directory Pacific NW International Society of Arboriculture - https://bit.ly/37S8YJ6
- Online Learning Module for Understanding Wildfire Threat to Homes - https://bit.ly/3AOeCID
- Environmental Consultants Directory for Wetlands & Wildlife - https://bit.ly/2VZHY7J
- Landscaping / Gardening Consultation with WSU Master Gardener Hotline - https://bit.ly/3CUTodZ
- Island County Noxious Weed Program Coordinator Consultation - https://bit.ly/2VXnHQe
- Construction / Land Development Contractors Directory via SICBA - https://www.sicba.org/list/